Most people make at least one really harebrained decision in their life. Tony Piza is no exception.
It’s 1973, and Tony decides he needs a carefree year off after college—with pay. So, to the shock of his tight-knit family and closest friends, he postpones law school and smooth-talks his way into a job teaching sixth grade at a Catholic school in Staten Island, N. Y. A paid vacation if ever there was one! Yeah, right.
Say hi to the Moby Dick of miscalculations. His pathetic effort is making him look bad, especially compared to the other sixth-grade instructor, Sister Theresa, an energetic young nun with a disposition that could have turned Attila the Hun into a daisy-picking philanthropist. It’s also crimping his efforts to enchant Colleen O’Brien, a stunning, straight-talking teacher who sees right through him. And, even worse, he’s starting to feel guilty about shortchanging his students, especially after learning about the issues some of them are dealing with.
So he shifts gears, engaging the kids with his irreverent humor and theatrical flair. But sometimes you pay a price for pushing the envelope. His offbeat style antagonizes the powers that be: the alpha-male president of the school board, and the pastor who’s more interested in single malt scotch than saving souls.
A showdown seems inevitable. Whether he can survive it—well, that’s something else.
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J. F. Pandolfi went to Fordham University as an undergrad, then taught at a Catholic elementary school before attending Fordham Law School.
Practicing law certainly had its moments, but to call it “utter euphoria”—well, that was a stretch. Plus, the voices that had taken up residency in his head (rent-free, the deadbeats) kept insisting that he share his writing with the world. An award for his flash fiction piece, “Psychology for Dummies”, convinced him that the voices might be on to something. And so he called upon his fond memories as a teacher, which served as a backdrop to his debut novel, “Mr. Pizza”.
J. F. also briefly believed he had won the New York City Marathon. Alas, it turned out to be a dream, brought on by an acute case of restless leg syndrome.
A staunch supporter of the fight to eradicate adult illiteracy, J. F. was accorded a Special Recognition in Literacy Award for his efforts.